Evaluation of respiratory and cutaneous doses and urinary excretion of alkylphosphates by workers in greenhouses treated with omethoate, fenitrothion, and tolclofos-methyl

AIHAJ. 2001 Jan-Feb;62(1):87-95. doi: 10.1080/15298660108984614.


This research evaluated exposure pathways across work tasks for three organophosphate pesticides in a group of greenhouse workers. During reentry in ornamental plant greenhouses, five male workers were monitored for five consecutive days. Skin contamination (excluding hands) was evaluated with nine pads of filter paper placed on the skin. Hand contamination was assessed by washing with 95% ethanol. Respiratory exposure was evaluated by personal air sampling. The respiratory dose was based on a lung ventilation of 20 L/min. The doses absorbed were estimated assuming 10% skin penetration and 100% lung retention. Urinary alkylphosphates were assayed in the 24-hour urine samples of the days on which exposure was evaluated. Respiratory exposure was usually less than skin contamination, being 4.5 +/- 8.4%, 9.9 +/- 10.0%, and 49.5 +/- 26.6% (mean +/- standard deviation) of total exposure for omethoate, tolclofos-methyl, and fenitrothion, respectively. Multiple regression analysis showed that urinary alkylphosphate (nmol/24 hours) (y) was significantly correlated (r = 0.716, p < 0.001) with the respiratory doses of the three active ingredients absorbed the same day (x1) and with the cutaneous dose absorbed the previous day (x2). The relationship was expressed by the equation y = 0.592x2 + 0.117x, + 156.364. The doses of omethoate absorbed by one worker were more than 45 times the acceptable daily intake (ADI) of 1.41 nmol/kg body weight (b.w.) The ADI for fenitrothion and tolclofos-methyl (10.8 and 212.6 nmol/kg body weight, respectively) were never exceeded. High absorption by one worker underlines the importance of correct use of protective clothing. In this study the hands were always a source of contact with the pesticides. Greater precautions should be taken to reduce contamination (clean gloves, constant use of gloves).

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Dimethoate / analogs & derivatives
  • Dimethoate / pharmacokinetics*
  • Dimethoate / urine
  • Fenitrothion / pharmacokinetics*
  • Fenitrothion / urine
  • Humans
  • Inhalation Exposure / analysis*
  • Insecticides / pharmacokinetics*
  • Insecticides / urine
  • Italy
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Exposure / analysis*
  • Organothiophosphorus Compounds / pharmacokinetics*
  • Organothiophosphorus Compounds / urine
  • Phosphoric Monoester Hydrolases
  • Skin Absorption*


  • Insecticides
  • Organothiophosphorus Compounds
  • dimethoxon
  • Phosphoric Monoester Hydrolases
  • tolclofos-methyl
  • Dimethoate
  • Fenitrothion